Another DAM Blog

Blog about Digital Asset Management


Do I need people to run a Digital Asset Management solution within my organization?

More people are interested in getting a Digital Asset Management system to help them actually manage their thousands or even millions of digital assets they are accumulating every year. Storage is much easier today, but actually managing and finding what is needed in a timely manner takes more effort. Once an organization selects one of the 200+ possible DAM systems and get it operational, a harsh reality sets in which few people talk about… It still takes people to keep the system working properly. To be clear, I am not referring to people running on a hamster wheel to make it run. They run more in the sense of a mechanical turk. Not like the crowdsourcing service available today, but often an internal service with institutional knowledge of your organization’s workflow, business, culture and other needs. Yes, I am referring to people embedded within your organization or at least working closely with the teams of people who request assets, create assets, upload assets, meta tag assets (kind of important part often overlooked), distribute assets where they are needed repeatedly. It is a thankless job few people understand.

This is not an IT function. If the DAM “works as designed” and it often does, IT often does not care.

You need people (at least one) who are close to the actual users who are using the system. This is where you position them.

Yes, it takes people to aid the user adoption of a DAM system. It is much more than a cheerleader role. It is not just [build/buy/license/setup/test/train/make operational] and they will come. This might be true in baseball teams, but not with DAM. Your organization has to deal with change. And let us not discount how few people embrace change. The change can be positive, obvious and even pain relieving, but human nature and company culture will still prevail. Even if it goes against logic, change is still resisted.

Enter the DAM Professional.

Someone recently asked me how can they justify headcount now that they have a DAM since they were working from 7AM to 11PM. This sounded very familiar, so this sparked the idea to write this very blog post since I have helped several companies to do this.

First of all, here are some of the wrong ways to attempt to justify an increase in headcount for a DAM.

(Note italics on this blog are used to explain humorous, but incorrect methods which are sadly seen too often in the real world.)

  1. Assume/Hope/Pray/Pretend people will notice you working insane hours and that will automagically grant you staff/assistants/contractors/helpers/elves/metadata fairies. May as well keep hallucinating and this might happen only in your mind. Back to reality. Try talking to your supervisors about the issue, but they will need to see measurable results that will be hard to dispute instead of a few weeks of long hours which is ‘normal’ nowadays in the workplace. Does the squeaky wheel get the grease?
  2. Run around screaming with arms waving above your head while bumping into desks, doors and walls until exhausted. This is repeated a few times per week. More often, this behavior is replaced with whining to people who could not care less or have no power to change your situation. If there are true pain points, they need to be discussed sanely with your supervisors. Whining is not measurable result unless you are attempting to measure how much more you will be ignored and avoided by your co-workers among others.
  3. Cry to get your way. Unless you have a weak supervisor who knows nothing, off to counseling you go for the emotionally unstable and deal with the unprofessional, childish behavior when the water works have ended. The problem will be waiting for you if/when you return. There is no crying in DAM.
  4. Expect money to rain from the sky to help pay for more help. Keep hallucinating. This is not gonna happen even if your organization has millions, billions or even trillion dollar budgets. It ain’t gonna happen. Priorities need to be justified. Read on and I will explain how to justify this as a priority.

Yes. I have seen all these scenarios. Others reading this may have also.

I have seen many people resign, retire, outright quit, get fired and simply wimp out over DAM. Admittedly, its not easy and can be painful. But, there is still no crying. You are not alone even if it may feel that way sometimes.

Digital Asset Management is not for everyone. Long hours is sometimes part of the deal, but burnout should not be part of the deal. So how do you justify the increase of DAM solution headcount.

Even if you are a salaried employee, you work a certain number of hours every week.  Maybe you work too many or maybe you are working a bunch more than you’d like doing tasks that are less fun then others. Multitasking or not, no task gets done without time. Someone’s time will be used to get a task accomplished.

No task gets done without time.

As a DAM professional, you have a lot of tasks which no machine can do. At least not yet. A few tasks can be automated and/or possibly done by other people.

You can review in this previous blog post on what skills a DAM professional needs to know and the levels of DAM experience.

If you need to justify your first DAM professional, I would suggest reading one of my earliest blog posts which is just as relevant today as the day I wrote it on Why do I need a Digital Asset Manager? If your organization still does not understand the need for people to run a DAM, they may need to fail in order to learn and someone will need to point out why they failed. Sometimes DAM Consultants can help point this out and help fix this since employees rarely speak up. It sometimes helps having an outsider say it [even if it was said before].

It does not matter what you title a DAM professional since I am in the opinion that titles mean less and less today. I was a Digital Asset Manager for a number of years and managed a DAM all by myself until I justified an increase in headcount. Working 60-80 hours can do that. If it is Tuesday and you have already worked 40 hours that week, you should be well on your way to justify an increase in head count as long as your accounting for what you did during your working hours. Sleep does not count toward work hours, but it helps to get some.

Bottom line, technology does not work alone. We have a while before it does. It works with and for people. Not the other way around. If you have no people using your DAM, you just adopted another shelf baby which will collect dust…instead of assets and value to your organization. Poof goes your ROI. Pick people who will champion your DAM for your organization.

When you are ready for some vendor neutral consulting on Digital Asset Management, let us know.

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Do you use a DAM Dashboard?

When we drive most vehicles, these have a dashboard with gauges telling us the important things we need to know about what is happening with the vehicle and how it is going. The dashboard may indicate speed, how much fuel is left plus warnings like temperature in case things are not going as well as they should be.

When executives want to know the status of what they are in charge of to help them make informed decisions based on the data, they could have a online dashboard with that information. This dashboard may tell them what they need to know about sales figures, units produced, project milestones reached, global growth by region or whatever information is relevant to them as it changes daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and/or annually.

Computers have dashboards as well and so do some mobile phones.

Some DAM systems have dashboards too. Sometimes these dashboards are part of the DAM system and sometimes they are extra add-ons which may measure data from other related ECM systems as well.

Why have a dashboard? Would you rather be uninformed? Do like shuffling reports or spreadsheets instead? Would you rather script your way through this data because there is some illusion that this is easier to do on a daily or weekly basis, then filter to the information needed each and every time?

Does a frequently updated (or live) presentation of the information you need to make informed decisions (based on the actual data, not gut feelings) sound more useful? Why would you not want this? Are you afraid of progress or the lack of it? Do you fear having this measured for you in useable numbers and digital charts so you can find out what is not working as well?

To paraphrase Peter Drucker, we can not manage what we do not measure and we can not measure what we do not define. If we do define what we need to measure, we can add this to dashboard, analyze the data in a clear, manageable way and make informed decisions as we watch the changes over time.

In May 2011, I gave a presentation about DAM Reporting, Measuring and Auditing at the Henry Stewart DAM Conference in New York City. I spoke about how to measure what is happening within the DAM and the power of DAM reporting. Some might think it is a really boring topic. So did I, but it was worth talking about since no one else was. It was so boring that the room for this presentation was standing room only. Not so boring I guess.

How to measure what is happening within the DAM comes down to filtering and using a dashboard. You could do that with reports with more processing and analysis. It is just more work.

Everyday, we are have more data, information and knowledge rain down on us. Managing this mountain of data is a matter of filtering to what is needed. If we are drowning in it, Clay Shirky put it best by explaining this is simply filter failure.

Being uninformed and ignorant of what is going on with your technology as well as your business is so 20th century. Filter. Analyze. Prioritize. Get a dashboard and use it to look at what the data and information says about what you define, measure and manage.


How to avoid DAM burnout

There are 168 hours in a week. Many of us work about 40 hours each week. Some of us may work more, less or not at all.  I have worked plenty of 22 hour work days and 100 hour work weeks. But this is not a race on how fast we can burnout.

After working with Digital Asset Management for a number of years, there is constantly more to do. The work and data multiples over time and the way it happens is much less fun than how rabbits multiply.

Schedules fill up and then get double booked. And there is plenty of fighting fires as well. Eating gets postponed past dinner. Sleeping is postponed again. Breathing got canceled too.

Scaling and automation is explored in any way that will increase accuracy, efficiency and effectiveness. Otherwise, mentions of cloning ones self continue to arise.

Weekends evaporate into part of the work week.  Then holidays become more time to focus on work. Then vacation time vanishes. Another high priority project get scheduled over a planned vacation. Again.  Last time I did take some vacation days (vacation hours), I was emailed and called in a panic to fix something critically important.  Did I forget to mention I how much I love not having backup (person) to resolve these kind of matters? How dare I sleep at 3:00 AM or become sick or go on vacation. My no-life membership card might get revoked.

Projects come and go. Or simply accumulate because of some other new priority. Or resolve some [fire] of the day. Not to worry, the world still spins whether we are working or not. Deadlines may fall behind if a user [forgot] something important. These projects have a closing date, right?

Dealing with time

There are 168 hours in a week. What do you do with those hours?

Document what you do with your time and find out. Regardless of whether you:

  • are hourly or salaried
  • have a time sheet to fill in or not

Note every task you work on during each block of time.

How long did you spend on each of these tasks? Build metrics. Note patterns. Adjust accordingly.

I happen to add this information to my online calendar(s) everyday (before or after the occurrence) so it is recorded in one place for the purposes of weekly reports, improving my time management (eliminating wastes of time and pin pointing what really takes up my time every week).

This also documents the time spent for others to see later on, to help prove whether you need help to scale the efforts of digital asset management within your organization beyond the one person who is often solely dedicated to this. Imagine this. One person, workload tripling each year. How do you prove you need assistance to the business people in your organization?

  1. Ask for assistance (do not whine)
  2. Prove you need assistance with your documented work hours on xyz tasks completed over a given period of time (such as a few quarters or a year).
  3. Prove the workload is increasing with measurable numbers.
  4. Repeat

All of these tasks may be necessary, but it will help identify and document what takes up your time so you can realize “Oh, it is Tuesday and I have already worked 40 hours this week. Again. This is normal, is it not?”
Find out what tasks really eat up most of your time.

In a perfect world, I divide all my waking hours with an uneven balance between:

  • Work time
  • Family time
  • Friend time
  • Me time (alone)

Moderation is one of the keys. Excess of anything is not a good idea.

While you may be the internal representative and/or go-to person for the DAM system, you are not the DAM system. Do not take it personally when the DAM does not work “perfectly.” If there is criticism or suggestions to improve the DAM, get this in writing (email usually works) from the person making the comment. Then, prioritize it among all other tasks and address it accordingly. There may be very valid points made, so keep your ears open and listen.

The reality is each of us is just one person, but we are not alone. You should refer to others when they may know more about a particular topic. I refer to others often because I do not pretend to know better about everything.

Getting the work done

I love to get the work done right the first time. I thrive on it. The key is getting it done right. Right is done the best you can. It needs to be right, not perfect. Nothing is perfect because everything can be improved over time.


Anyone in today’s working world has stress. Or they simply do not do anything.

What matters is how you deal with stress. Not how much you have. Realize what you are involved in and some its drawbacks. Then, realize there are things you can control and things can not control.


Many wondered how I work so much at my regular job and still find time to write this blog over the past few years. Lack of sleep is one answer. Not a good idea though. Time management of my 168 hour week to the extreme? Scheduling sleep cycles as necessary. Not a good idea either. You might note I post to my blog much less often. That is because I sleep more now. I also found recording and editing podcasts faster than writing my long form blog posts. Sleeping 6 to 10 hours is a really good idea. Don’t worry, the work will still be there when you awaken. The earth does not stop rotating for anyone.

Watch your health

Your body is telling you something, but are you listening? If and when you do lose your health, you may not be able to care for yourself nor anyone else. Your health is worth paying close attention to.

If your work is negatively affecting your health (mentally and/or physically) that should be a clear sign you need to address the issue and take action to resolve it. I am not a doctor nor do I claim to be one. It is your life. Literally.

What do you consume

How did I get a dozen empty coffee cups on my desk today? Oh wait, they are all mine. From today.

  • Stay hydrated (just add water)
  • Eat right (something dispensed from a vending machine does not equal breakfast, lunch and dinner)

When is it time to move on

Do not give up. Everyone has a different threshold. Some people can take more than others. We are all tested in one way or another.

For every position I have had since my very first job, I look at the following:

  • Can I make a difference?
  • Am I listened to?
  • Am I treated well?
  • Is this what I want to do?
  • Am I paid well?

I believe if none (or only one) of five questions has been answered with a yes, it is time to move on.

Listen to your family and friends

If you have an issue like being a workaholic (know any?), they will likely tell you at some point. If during social interaction (yes, with real live people. Not just virtually) the only stories you remember are work related, they may take notice. But do you notice? Some people are more vocal than others. The vocal ones care to tell you what no one else is telling you. Listen. There may be some logic in there somewhere. This is one of the reasons to make time for them. They may even want to spend time with you. Imagine that.

Are you always connected?

Do you really need to be? You may need a digital diet. Take the free quiz to find out if you need one.

If you’d like to connect, let us know when you are ready for some vendor neutral consulting on Digital Asset Management.

How do you avoid DAM burnout?

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Poll: How long did it take to get a DAM working within your organization?

As discussed earlier, how long did it take to get a DAM working within your organization from the day it was decided by stakeholders and sponsors to the day you measured user adoption with favorable results of a working Digital Asset Management solution will vary. Obviously, this is not just about a DAM vendor handing off an empty shell and running away, but rather having DAM with:

  • Defined users, roles and admins able to use the system
  • Up-to-date training with supporting documentation
  • Assets
  • Searchable Metadata
  • Working features and functionality
  • Configurations set for your initial needs (and adjustable for the future)
  • Any customization completed and in use by users

Answer this one question poll